World Architecture(3000-1500 BCE)

…As a next step of society, first urban cultures started to appear around rivers. Societies became more complex, specialized in art and craft. Social classes, power and wealth occured. Architectural traditions developed with written language which responds religious and political needs. It can be seen that there are monumental structures, religious hierarchy and urban order, street alignment, drainage, roofing etc.

Earliest city-states were settled in Sumer, Mesopotamia. Those cities are mostly centered by sacred precinct. Cities developed by an architectural system that improved religious hierarchy in temples, military duty in walls, water management in canals, circulation of people and goods in streets. City-states as Eridu, Uruk, Nippur, Ur, Kish were surrounded by set of double walls, and there was at least one towering temple as center of city.

As a result of class system, the elites who are lordowners, high priests, lugal(king) controlled the wealth together with irrigation system. And architectural distinct parts appeared due to storage system. Generally, buildings were made by mud but perishable nature of mud results in constant change in city pattern, there can’t be seen permanent form. Therefore, they built on old structures and human made topography occured as Arbil. This situation actually related with the columnar architecture of ziggurat(stepped temples). As I mentioned, temples were located at the center and they affected urban order, so does architecture. There was a strong relation between religion and architecture. People wanted to serve gods and constantly built as a religious behavior, and constant building developed architecture. As a result, they discovered weatherproof terra cotta cone mosaics and embedded into the mud walls of temples which is more permanent when it’s compared to mud. In addition, clay were also discovered that is permanent form of terra cotta. In addition, I am surprised about some parts of buildings today are actually based on religious actions. For example, terrace definition is actually an outcome of “moon god’s bridal chamber”

Overall, I wouldn’t expect that much strong relation between religion and architecture. The case is also same in Ancient Egypt. Pyramids which are the most abstract version of mountains, are based on religious behaviours too. For instance, stepped pyramid of Djoser resembled the stepped towers of Ziggurat and was certainly inspired by them but pyramids are more abstract. Another thing, Ancient Egypt is famous for with its funeral and mortuary architecture. Pyramids were basically Pharaoh’s burial chambers. They built false doors because ka(spirit) of Pharaoh shall use the door in afterlife. Staircases were built according to ray of sun to ascend Ra, god of sun. Columnar architecture of pyramids and obelisks intend same religious behaviour which points out sun. Dummy granaries in the courtyard of stepped pyramid of Djoser which were built by first architect so known, Imhotep, aims afterlife purpose again. Imhotep used stone ceiling carved with rounded beams which resembleĀ  palm trunks used to cover vernacular buildings. It was a transition to stone from wood. On the other hand, Imhotep was worshipped due to his architectural exploits so that we can understand the sigficance of architecture. Later, Egyptians became successful to build perfect prismic pyramids. However, economical burden of pyramids, environmental issues, influence of rock-cut tombs on axial architecture lead to end of columnar architecture. Obsession of afterlife in Ancient Egypt directly affected architecture in the region. However, when we examine Indus civilization, we can’t see monuments or any religion related buildings so that they introduce us civil architecture which is not connected to military nor religion. For instance, there can be seen urban layout, orthogonal buildings, sewers, drainage, hieararchy of streets, major streets.

To sum up, religion is an important part of architecture, especially in Ancient Egypt. Despite the strong relation between religion and architecture, architecture developed without religion as Indus civilizations. However, when we consider that success and fame of Ziggurats and Pyramids, compared to Indus buildings, influence of religion can be discussed.


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